How often do you walk out of a meeting and say to a colleague, “That was great – such a great use of time!” It’s especially difficult for Project Managers because you spend all day trying to coordinate follow-up from your status meetings. Along the same lines, how often have you ever sat down after a meeting to organize the follow-up and said to yourself, “I love following up on my meetings – it’s easy and so effective!” The first sentence may be hard to imagine, but the second sentence is even more unlikely.

Meetings Get a Bad Rap

Internal meetings get a bad rap. They tend, but don’t have, to suck. They are a necessary requirement to coordinate large groups of people on a team, so how can you maximize these time in and after these meetings? There are millions of articles on the internet that provide useful tips and tricks to get you to have more effective, more focused, more efficient meetings that lead to real, tangible results. These suggestions range from the sublime to the radical. Some people tell you to “only schedule 25-minute meetings and remove the chairs”. Some people say “don’t attend a meeting with more than 8 people”. These are gimmicks. They can work, but they are not treating the problem – they are simply covering it up. The fact is that meetings are more successful when you can focus, and focus can be achieved very easily. Below are 3 tips and tricks you can use right now to solve the problems with meetings and followup required to make them successful.

Be Present

First off, be present. Have your team put their phones away and close their laptops. Ask them to be respectful to the people you are meeting with and don’t double book (at least try really hard not to). You can’t possibly focus when you’re distracted or worrying about what’s going on in another location. The most successful executives in the world are focused. They’re present in the room when you speak to them and they make sure you know it. Why can’t your team do the same? 30 minutes of focused presence on the moment is more productive than 8 hours multi-tasking your way through the day. Multi-tasking splits your attention, but focus centers you on the people in the room and the conversation at hand. Before you walk into a meeting, make sure everyone has the agenda, they know the recap from your last meeting and make them take 30 seconds to remind themselves where they are and what they are doing. Never have your team go directly from one meeting into the next because it disables the brains’ ability to focus on a single topic. A few minutes of separation and 30 seconds to gather their attention can enable them to be focused when they attack the topic at hand.

Get Good Notes

Second, make sure you have designated someone to take the notes. In the absence of an official note-taker, you can use a voice collaboration platform like Voicera which provides an AI to take the notes (https://www.voicera.com). Whether its a person or an AI, you need one person to create a virtual record of the conversation so everyone has the same information to operate off of for follow up. A single “source of truth” for what was discussed and the details were can go a long way to making sure the follow up is as efficient as possible. A person can do it if they realize that’s their role and they aren’t being forced to balance note-taking with input. When they do, they are inevitably missing something. An AI can do it because it can be trained for what to listen for and it never wants to interrupt and offer its own ideas.

Follow Up Fast

Third, the follow up has to be done quickly. You should never let a day or two pass before following up. You want to make sure your follow-up happens within 12 hours. The sooner it comes through, the more likely you are to be able to take advantage of the momentum that came from the conversation. When all parties are engaged, you have to offer up the next steps. Confirm the action items that will help you move things forward.

Meetings can be awesome if you focus on the moment and shorten the distance from what was talked about to what gets done. That “conversation activation” period can be the difference between being successful or not. If you want a jumpstart on conversation activation, check out the Voice Collaboration Platform from Voicera and the in-meeting assistant, EVA. EVA can join any conversation – in-person, conference call or direct phone call – and take notes. Voicera supplies a full, highly accurate transcript and recording plus highlights from the conversation. You can customize what EVA listens for and what it considers important. You can also ask EVA to do things like set reminders and mark special pieces of conversation.

Check out Voicera and immediately increase the impact of your conversations. Sign up for your free trial and start turning Talk into Action today at https://www.voicera.com